Tag Archives: OddBox

Southern Californians Are Receiving GOP Mailers That Look Like Census Forms

GOP Scam – false news 5e4f4057b555c5000abe2913-eight.jpgSouthern Californians are receiving mailers from the RNC that look a lot like 2020 Census forms. (Screenshot of Republican National Committee mailer)

Throughout Southern California, residents are getting mailers from the Republican National Committee that look an awful lot like official Census 2020 forms, setting off alarm bells for Congressional Democrats.

The RNC mailers are labeled as “2020 Congressional District Census” and include a questionnaire and urgent instructions: “When you are finished answering your Census Document, please return it within the next 7 days to ensure accurate tabulation and dependable results.”

But they are not census documents — in fact, households won’t begin receiving official U.S. Census Bureau mail until March.

Both U.S. Reps. Gil Cisneros, D-Yorba Linda, and Katie Porter, D-Irvine have warned constituents to read the fine print: At the end of the questionnaire, it says the mailer was paid for by the RNC, and provides information on how to make a contribution.

Many of the questions on the RNC mailers carry an obvious political slant: for example, whether the national media “has a strong bias against all things Donald Trump and Republican” and whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the “Democrat-controlled House are holding President Trump’s agenda hostage.”

Still, there have been reports of people mistaking the RNC mailers for actual census forms because of their strong resemblance.

“It’s not appropriate for any political party to try to hijack the brand of the United States Census for their own political gain,” Porter said.

The problem came to Porter’s attention last year when people in California and beyond started posting stories on social media of how older loved ones were being duped into thinking the RNC mailers were actual census forms.

5e4f760ab555c5000abe291f-eight.jpgThe real thing: What actual 2020 Census forms look like. (Screenshot of 2020 Census forms)

In recent months, Porter has complained to the Census Bureau and asked the U.S Postal Service to look into possible mail fraud.

Porter said she’s also working with Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, the chair of the House Oversight Committee who sponsored 2010 legislation called Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act. The law, which Porter said may need to be updated, was a response to census-style mailings from the RNC a decade ago.

5e4f3ec4b555c5000abe290f-eight.jpg(Screenshot from Rep. Katie Porter’s Twitter account)

Porter said she was further disturbed when President Trump’s re-election campaign recently sent out texts urging recipients to complete a “census survey.”

LAist/KPCC reached out to the Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign. A spokeswoman for the campaign responded in an email Thursday that the mailers are clearly marked as coming from the RNC.

Cisneros, who recently got a complaint about the RNC mailer from a constituent in Duarte, said that the committee is acting with a “lack of integrity.”

“It might not be illegal but it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros said his district, the 39th, is largely Latino and Asian American — two groups with historically lower rates of census participation. He fears the confusing RNC mailers will only worsen the situation.

politicalsci: “We should realize that the problems of racial…


“We should realize that the problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Poor People’s Campaign was a 1968 effort to gain economic
justice for poor people in the United States. It was organized by Martin
Luther King, Jr., and was the last campaign he was working on before he
was assassinated in April 1968. King shifted his focus to these issues after observing
that gains in civil rights had not improved the material conditions of
life for many African Americans.

The Poor People’s Campaign was a multiracial effort—including
African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans,
Appalachian White people, and Native Americans—aimed at alleviating
poverty regardless of race.
Just as King began his multiracial campaign for economic justice he was murdered.


In the Shadows of Men: Marriage


Since my divorce, I’ve studied and considered marriage carefully. It cannot be dismantled. No wonder marriage is described as an unbreakable charter. How can divorce be allowed to disassemble such an institution, when a nation of people, despite their many differences, has united around the singular idea that a full life must and should include marriage?

After my divorce, I fully trusted that the worst in my life had passed. I left behind the money and the glory and ran out with my children. I can work, I told myself. I am the one who built an empire with my husband. Why can’t I build another on my own? All I wanted was to lay my head on a pillow at the end of the day without someone else’s breath suppressing my own. To be able to wake up when I wanted to wake up. To get up and work or not work or do whatever I pleased. I wanted to breathe freely. I wanted to breathe without someone watching over every single breath.

Was that too much to ask?

For a time, it seemed impossible.

By getting a divorce, I challenged the very essence of a society in which marriage at its best was a marriage like mine. Women conspired against me, even my mother and my sisters. My husband was backed by an army of men dedicated to serving him and distorting me. They formed an entourage that surrounded him and stood by to help him and his family. Then there was me and my children… and God, perhaps. Or maybe He was busy protecting me on the multiple fronts that stretched beyond the horizon.

Each time I inhaled the air of freedom, I found myself besieged. I felt like a cat trying to protect her newborn kittens from encroaching and hungry felines. I forgot myself. I even forgot why I wanted a divorce in the first place—there were so many calamities coming from all directions. The moment I lifted my head, a new calamity appeared, as if the planets had united against me, as if the universe decided to oppose me, as if I were walking against a current each step of the way.

I raised my hands as an invocation to God, seeking sanctuary through my prayers. I started visiting graveyards in search of serenity. I wanted to sit with my grandfather. I wanted to talk to him, to cry on his knees. How I yearned to be consoled in his arms, to feel a kind hand expressing compassion for me. But the graveyard was dreary and fierce and filled with thorns.

There were more family members laid to rest there—more than I even realized—and the cemetery was crowded with the dead. I tried to clear the place of thorns, but they were too thick. The fierce loneliness of the place befuddled me, and I rushed to leave. I was astonished by how overrun the graveyard had become. The graveyards of Jerusalem are much like the city itself, with everyone scrambling for an eternal presence.

I left the graveyard adjacent to Lion’s Gate. I like this place for the way it gathers together the dead who were divided in life— Muslims, Christians, and Jews laid to rest on those different plateaus of the Jerusalem mountains. Our Islamic cemetery on both sides of the entrance to the plateau embraces Lion’s Gate, passes all the way through Via Dolorosa, and takes you from all directions to the Dome of the Rock. Our deaths embrace al-Aqsa from that direction.

The Jews look down from the opposite plateau, and Christians with their Gethsemane Church oversee the location. It creates a strange harmony that doesn’t otherwise exist in this city of collision. I wanted to get closer to God by praying at al-Aqsa. After all, a prayer there is like five hundred regular prayers elsewhere. I don’t actually like al-Aqsa much. It is a modest mosque. I don’t know why I always thought it was for men only. I like the Dome of the Rock more. It is pleasant, with a glorified beauty. There is much about it to observe and admire—its impressive artwork and architecture. It sits amid the courtyards like a beautiful bride that never ages. It only grows more beautiful with time. And maybe, the Dome of the Rock brings back warm memories from childhood.

When I accompanied my grandmother to Friday prayers as a child, other children would gather around me while I led the prayer like an imam. I recited prayers in such an impressive way that women and girls, and even my grandmother, would listen with pride. How I loved those days of my childhood. And how I feel transported back there when I’m within the stones of this ancient city. I don’t understand the charm of this place, and I don’t know if Jerusalem is a beautiful city. I often ask myself why so much fighting takes place here. It is definitely not among the most beautiful cities. Jerusalem is a way station for great civilizations. Its ancient stones affirm its origins. They tell of an emperor who brought with him a stone from his civilization and laid it in Jerusalem. It is a splendid place, however, with the various civilizations that passed through it and blew across it. It has a strange but real charm. It touches me the moment I enter any of its gates. The city is filled with the scent of history and contains a wondrous serenity despite the pollution in the air. It makes me feel warm and contained, despite the harshness of the surroundings and the eyes of the people.

I entered the mosque beseeching, dreaming, crying, complaining. I pretended to forget what was taking place around me—women sitting on the side of the room eating nuts and chatting. In another area, a gathering of women around a man discussing a fatwa or a religious issue that concerned them, perhaps. Children ran and played between other clusters of praying women. It was not yet prayer time. As if everybody were in that time between prayer—talking, entertaining, and gossiping.

I found a spot in a corner and was about to pray when a woman rushed towards me with a surprising attitude that befuddled me. “Some of your hair is showing from beneath your head cover,” she said. I was confused, and I started thinking of my hair, concentrating on what could be seen by others in the mosque more than on the prayer itself. But I wanted to find that certain place within where I could connect with God in His own house. So I ignored the thought of my hair. But no sooner had I bowed down with my head to the carpet than I sprang back up. The smell of the carpet was mixed with the smell of feet. I should have brought my own prayer rug, I told myself.

The odor was very strong, and I could not tolerate it. Sometimes I hate this aspect of myself. All of my senses are weak, except for my sense of smell. It is far stronger than my senses of hearing or sight. How can Islam be a religion of cleanliness? How can people wash five times a day for prayer (wudu) and their bodies still remain unclean? How can a person separate the cleanliness of his body from odors, from sweat in his unwashed clothes? Cleanliness is a part of faith. Why does our faith lack cleanliness? Ablution is mentioned in the Quran many more times than prayer. Don’t Muslims realize that ablution is a very clear demand for cleanliness?

I insisted on using the moment to become closer to God. I silently cried out to Him, begging Him, calling Him to save me. But the place was filled with children’s voices and women’s gossiping murmurs and the stinking odor in the air.

That was the last time I went to the mosque in search of God.

God must have been somewhere outside His own house. He must have left it to the masses over many generations.

I went back home. I don’t know how much time passed—days, months, or maybe years before that moment arrived. I was praying at night, crying and begging to God. At that moment, I was trying to demonstrate my submission so that God might hear me in the heavens and have some mercy on me. I had lowered my head to the ground in prayer, but then felt something pulling me up, as if God were trying to speak to me without uttering a word.


In the Shadows of Men: We are Extensions to Our Mothers


How much we become an extension of our mothers without even realizing it. We forget our childhoods quickly, and immediately take on the role of the mother. We forget we were also children. We forget the emotions of our youth and their warnings. We forgive and tolerate until we become a copy of the women who raised us.

We live as Alice Miller, the psychologist, described in her book, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: “I have never known a patient to portray his parents more negatively than he actually experienced them in childhood but always more positively—because idealization of his parents was essential for his survival.” According to Miller in The Drama of the Gifted Child, we avoid learning anything about our origins. “Without realizing that the past is constantly determining their present actions, [adults] avoid learning anything about their history. They continue to live in their repressed childhood situation, ignoring the fact that it no longer exists, continuing to fear and avoid dangers that, although once real, have not been real for a long time.”

I became the copy of my mother that I didn’t want to become. I understood her and tolerated her, but after my childhood, I wanted to be nothing like her. This was not because she was not a role model, but because she was not satisfied with her life and her circumstances and where she ended up. How did I become my mother in my adulthood? I wanted to be what she frequently aspired to be, and to achieve the fading dreams she could not follow.

Once I realized this, I allowed the child in me to take over and help me prepare. She whispered reminders and played along with me and my children. I would give my daughter a harsh glance if she misbehaved, and I would run to the closet for a shoe I could raise against her. But suddenly, the child in me would appear with her arms folded, scolding me: “Do you remember how you felt when your mother did this to you?” I was about to throw the shoe, but I stopped in an instant, reliving that deep memory from the past. Then I put the shoe down and called my daughter to me, embracing her and showering her with kisses.

In this way, my inner child and my motherhood joined forces. We became friends and began to get to know one another. As a result, motherhood became an amusing childhood journey filled with adventures and independence.



That Old Conviction For Pot? It’s About To Go Away

5e45cc42b555c5000abe2657-eight.jpg(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

If you were ever convicted in Los Angeles County for having a joint, a lid or even a bale of marijuana, you can look forward to your criminal conviction being erased soon.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey has asked a judge to dismiss and seal the records of some 66,000 marijuana-related convictions for about 53,000 individuals dating back to 1961.

Lacey announced the move on Thursday, about 10 months after she first pledged to erase the cases. She said expunging the convictions could clear away an obstacle keeping thousands of people from getting better jobs, housing and education.

The request would “bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” Lacey said. About 45% of the convictions being lifted were for Latinos and 32% for African-Americans.

Lacy said the dismissals go beyond the relief called for under Prop. 64 — the 2016 measure that legalized recreational marijuana — and a follow-on implementation law known as AB 1793, which required past pot cases to be dismissed or re-sentenced by July 1 of this year.

Rather than just reduce the charges from felonies to misdemeanors in accordance with the law, she said she requested dismissals of all the convictions.


The requested dismissals include 62,000 felony cases filed in L.A. County since 1961. Lacey is also seeking dismissals of about 4,000 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases that were prosecuted by city attorney offices in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Torrance, Pasadena, Inglewood, Burbank, Santa Monica, Hawthorne, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach.

Individuals have had the right to petition a court for their cases to be dismissed, but almost no one has because the process is cumbersome, costly and confusing.

A nonprofit group called Code for America worked with L.A. and four other counties to generate the list of potentially dismissable cases from data provided by the state Department of Justice. Statewide, software created by Code For America has identified 85,000 convictions that might be purged in L.A., San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties.

These convictions should no longer burden those who have struggled to find a job or a place to live because of their criminal record,” Lacey said.

What we have faced in Los Angeles County was decades of draconian drug laws that had an incredibly disproportionate impact on minorities and in particular, African Americans,” said Public Defender Ricardo Garcia.

Clearing these convictions will help thousands of Angelenos move on with their lives and build a future free from the pain and suffering of a criminal conviction,” he said.


These types of cases are not eligible for dismissal: Cases in which people used children to sell pot, and those in which individuals created concentrated versions of cannabis by cooking down and processing marijuana.

The law doesn’t distinguish regarding the amount of pot, so someone convicted of possessing a joint would be treated the same as someone convicted of possessing a bale of marijuana.

Of course, if you were convicted of moving bales of marijuana, there were probably other charges as well, like conspiracy, money laundering and so on. Those other charges do not go away, only the pot-related ones.

People who were jailed on just pot-related charges have already been released in L.A. County, Lacey said.


Assuming the judge grants the DA’s request, the recent cases will be processed most quickly, while the older cases dating back to the 60s and 70s could take a few months.


People with old cannabis convictions need not do anything to make their pot offenses go away. The dismissals, once approved by the court, are automatic.

The L.A. County Public Defender’s office has set up a hotline for people who want to verify that their cannabis-related convictions were indeed erased.

The number is (323) 760-6763.

“We expect to get a deluge of calls,” said Public Defender Ricardo Garcia. Callers will get a recording with instructions on how to confirm their marijuana violations were cleared from their record.


Jackie Lacey’s April 1, 2019 announcement that she would seek to clear marijuana convictions

LA Leaders Want To End Killing Of Mountain Lions For Taking Livestock

5e42b73fb555c5000abe24e5-eight.jpgP-56 was part of the National Park Service’s ongoing study of mountain lions in the area. He was fitted with a radio collar in April 2017. (Courtesy National Park Service via Flickr)

The death of mountain lion P-56 has grabbed the attention of city leaders in L.A., where two council members are calling for an end to permitted killings.

The male mountain lion was shot and killed legally using what’s known as a depredation permit issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after a dozen sheep and lambs were killed in the Camarillo area. Such permits are issued to landowners who can prove the loss or damage of livestock was caused by mountain lions.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, whose 5th District covers parts of the westside and San Fernando Valley, and David Ryu, whose 4th District covers parts of Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills and Sherman Oaks, wrote a resolution calling for the state to stop issuing these permits and establish a fund to reimburse anyone who loses an animal in an attack.

I am outraged at the unnecessary killing of mountain lion P56 in a time when we are working on all levels to protect our local wildlife and habitats. Thank you @davideryu & @BobBlumenfield for your support in stopping depredation permits and listing our local pumas as threatened pic.twitter.com/8PnEkDANhV

— Paul Koretz (@PaulKoretzCD5) February 12, 2020

Mountain lions are not threatened or endangered in California. However, Prop 117, a ballot measure passed in 1990, made them a “specially protected species,” a status which, combined with other statutes, makes it illegal to hunt them, according to CDFW.

In Southern California, the spread of freeways and urban development have left them so dangerously isolated that their long-term survival is in question. P-56 was a collared lion that was part of an ongoing study in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

“I think there’s just an insane disconnect between the fact that we are working to conserve our mountain lions, especially in the city of Los Angeles, where there’s possibly one still surviving that’s collared and there may be another one that’s not collared — two males, and we just allowed one to be killed,” Koretz said.

Speaking on KPCC’s AirTalk, Koretz called the killing “absolutely unnecessary” and pointed to other steps that might be taken to prevent the loss of livestock, including the use of rubber bullets to deter mountain lions and using more sophisticated animal pens for protection.

But some residents in areas impacted by mountain lions say they have a right to defend life and property.

Wendell Phillips is one such resident. He lives in Malibu and had several alpacas and horses killed by P-45. He was issued a depredation permit but only managed to graze the animal with a bullet.

Phillips said victims of attacks shouldn’t be blamed for not building a better pen or taking other precautions that don’t end up working.

“I mean, it would be sort of like tantamount to telling a burglary victim, ‘Your burglar alarm wasn’t the best and therefore you’re at fault for being burglarized,'” he said.

CDFW has said it will review P-56’s death to make sure protocols were followed.

You can listen to the full debate on AirTalk.


Mountain Lion P-56 Killed After Death Of Livestock

Mistake – puma more important than 2 sheep – catch and move should have been the move. 5e41e725b555c5000abe24c7-eight.jpgMountain lion P-56 (Courtesy of National Park Service)

A four- or five-year-old mountain lion was killed in the Santa Monica Mountains after the deaths of 12 privately owned sheep and lambs in the area.

The owner of the livestock obtained permission to kill the mountain lion from the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

P-56 was part of the National Park Services’ ongoing study of mountain lions in the area. He was fitted with a radio collar in April 2017, and was the first animal involved in the study to be euthanized as a result of predatory behavior. He was killed on January 27.

P-56 was believed to be the father of at least four other mountain lions: P-70, P-71, P-72 and P-73. Authorities were able to confirm that he was responsible for a majority of the livestock deaths by tracking his movements via his collar.

California landowners whose livestock or pets are threatened by a mountain lion are required to implement non-lethal deterrents before requesting a depredation permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to kill the animal.

Such a permit is granted only after property owners or animal owners have made serious attempts to protect their livestock or pets, said Tim Daily, a public information officer with CDFW.

“We make sure the person has done whatever he or she can to prevent further incidents,” he said.

In the case of P-56, the landowner – whose property was in the Camarillo area – tried various methods over the course of approximately two years to dissuade the mountain lion from returning and killing more livestock, including bringing the livestock inside, penning the livestock, and utilizing guard dogs, lights, sound and electric fencing, according to CDFW.

When those attempts failed, the resident was granted the depredation permit, which allows a resident to kill a mountain lion, or to name another person to kill it.

Whoever carries out the killing must use “humane methods,” said Daly.

“Not poison, not metal traps,” he said, adding that whoever does the killing must also follow local gun and hunting laws and be legally authorized to hunt or kill animals. The person must not have been convicted of a violation of taking game or fur-bearing animals in the last 24 months, or be on probation and barred from hunting or possessing firearms.

The method used to kill P-56 has not been confirmed, nor has the name of the person who killed the animal.

Scientists at NPS who are involved in the mountain lion study say that the death of P-56 could be detrimental to their project, and to the well-being of mountain lions in the area.

“We have a very small population, and our lions are already facing a number of significant challenges, especially with the Woolsey Fire that destroyed almost half of the mountains,” said Jeff Sikich, a wildlife biologist with NPS. “The loss of any animal in this small population could be significant.”

CDFW will review P-56’s death to make sure all protocols were followed.

Lita Martinez contributed to this report.

Generations of Handwritten Mexican Cookbooks Are Now Online

The story of Mexican food is usually told as a happy merging of indigenous ingredients and techniques with those brought by the Spanish in the 1500s, as if the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was just a means to a better burrito. In fact, what we now know as Mexican cuisine is the result of centuries of shifting borders and tastes.

“When it came to culinary cultural exchange in the colonial period, the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo referred to corn dishes as the ‘misery of maize cakes,'” says Stephanie Noell, Special Collections Librarian at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). “On the other side, Indians were not impressed by the Spaniards’ wheat bread, describing it as ‘famine food.’” The eventual confluence of native and European ingredients and traditions is, of course, what defines North American cuisine to this day.


A rough timeline of this transformation exists in the UTSA’s Mexican cookbook collection, the largest-known trove of Mexican and Mexican-American cookbooks in North America. It started with a donation of nearly 550 books from San Antonio resident Laurie Gruenbeck in 2001, amassed during her decades of travel throughout Mexico. It now has more than 2,000 books, including some of renowned chef and scholar Diana Kennedy’s rarest books, as well as her personal papers. It has the oldest cookbooks published in Mexico (from 1831), elaborate vegetarian cookbooks from 1915 and 1920, corporate and community cookbooks, and much more.

The earliest book in the collection is from 1789, making it one of the oldest Mexican cookbooks in existence. This so-called “manuscript cookbook”—written by “Doña Ignacita,” who Noell believes was the kitchen manager of a well-off family—is a handwritten recipe collection in a notebook, complete with liquid stains, doodles, and pages that naturally fall open to the most-loved recipes. These manuscript cookbooks, never intended for public scrutiny, provide essential insight on how real households cooked on a regular basis. Though the UTSA only has about 100 manuscript cookbooks, they are impossibly rare documents that form the heart of the collection.

Written in flowery scripts and stained with the cooks’ DNA, these recipe-packed tomes feel like living histories that inform our present as much as they illuminate the past. “I’ve had students in tears going through these, because it’s so powerful to see that connection with how their family makes certain dishes and where they originated,” says Noell.


Anyone can visit the collection, but, Noell says, “I want anybody with an internet connection to be able to see these works.” Toward that end, the UTSA has stepped up digitization efforts to get the majority of their older books—in particular the fragile, one-of-a-kind manuscript cookbooks—not just scanned but transcribed, so the contents are searchable. About half of the approximately 100 manuscript cookbooks have been digitized so far. While anyone can visit the collection, this global availability is a game-changer for not just students and scholars, but anyone interested in the development of Mexican and Mexican-American cuisine.

“Aside from the treasure of the recipes, many of these [manuscript cookbooks] read like stories themselves,” says Rico Torres, chef and co-owner of San Antonio’s Mixtli, one of the country’s most acclaimed restaurants dedicated to progressive Mexican cuisine. “Often there’s a hint of longing for a dish from a faraway place. There was a recipe I came across that was an interesting take on paella, substituting saffron with poblano chile, and Spanish chorizo with local varieties from Puebla.”


Deciphering these densely written books is worth the effort for Mexican gastronomy obsessives. A close read of cookbooks from the late 18th and early 19th centuries shows vino de Parras appearing over and over again. It’s a reference to wine from the city of Parras in the state of Coahuila, the center of Mexican wine production even after winemaking was forbidden for everyone except clergy in 1699. The wine is offered as an alternative to both white and red wine (presumably imported from Spain) for cooking. It shows that this “forbidden” red wine was extremely common outside the church, and, as historical hearsay suggests, that it was light enough to stand in for wine of either color.

In the 1789 book, most of the “fancy” meat dishes include ingredients such as almonds, sesame seeds, raisins, cloves, and cinnamon, which—from our modern-day standpoint—seem like obvious precursors to the the flavorings added to mole. In the first published Mexican cookbooks of the 1830s, the same items are ground with dried chiles in recipes that read much like today’s mole recipes from Oaxaca and Puebla, but with names like mole gallego (Galician, of northwest Spain) and castellano (Castilian, of central Spain). The language used lends weight to the idea that mole sauces were intentional fusions of native and Spanish tastes, and that some of these luxury ingredients still weren’t considered Mexican, even 300 years post-Conquest.


Many of the dishes at Mixtli, from several of their mole sauces to a recent dish of pickled mussels, were inspired by the university’s collection. “Having the UTSA Mexican Cookbook collection as one of our resources has been incredibly valuable to the message of our restaurant; to preserve, protect, and promote Mexican gastronomy,” says Torres.

Noell also stresses that “this collection is an attempt to preserve the culinary heritage of all of these different regions of Mexico and also of Mexican-Americans.” It traces the period when Mexico was New Spain and idealized European dishes, to the era after the second Mexican Revolution, when pride in native dishes took center stage. Earlier books have multi-day recipes, while later books prioritize convenience, including packaged and frozen foods. And throughout the centuries, the books are dessert-heavy.


Given that most of the southeastern U.S. was part of Mexico for centuries, the collection brings to life local culinary history as well. “Today we identify Tex-Mex with large goblets of margaritas and nachos, but the gastronomy of the Texas Mexican terroir predates political and national boundaries,” says Torres, noting that many of the ingredients mentioned in the cookbooks, such as maize, chiles, and nopal, are eaten on both sides of the border. As both a culinary resource and historical record, the UTSA Mexican cookbook collection shows how intertwined Mexico and the U.S. have always been, and continue to be.

You can join the conversation about this and other stories in the Atlas Obscura Community Forums.

What a Viral Video of a Coyote and Badger Says About Interspecies Duos

When he saw the video of the coyote and badger, Neal Sharma was speechless. “The playful body language of the coyote first got my attention,” he says. “But when the badger snout entered the frame, it blew me away.”

Sharma is the wildlife linkages program manager at the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) , the organization that recently released a short video shot under a highway near the southern part of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. In it, a coyote dances playfully at the entrance to a culvert (a tunnel beneath a roadway), appearing to wait for the badger that follows. The pair then travel into the tunnel together. Nature-video gold.

They may seem an unlikely duo, but coyotes and badgers have a long-recognized relationship as occasional hunting partners—a phenomenon known to Native Americans and early settlers (and described in an 1884 paper in American Naturalist).

Out on the prairie, both species go after animals such as ground squirrels, but in different ways: Coyotes search, stalk, chase, and pounce, while badgers “are basically backhoes,” excavating tunnels and digging up animals hiding underground, says evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While shared prey makes them competitors, joining their skill sets turns out to be mutually beneficial.

Specifically, scientists have shown that a coyote’s hunting area increases significantly when the canid hunts with a badger, and that pairing up saves the coyote energy, and probably search time as well. With a badger working the scene, a coyote can mostly wait in the brush, then scramble at the last minute to capture the fleeing rodent flushed out by the badger.

While a little harder to assess, badgers also appear to save time and energy by hunting with coyotes, spending more time underground eating their quarry than aboveground searching for and digging after it. And when squirrels sense a coyote’s presence and stay put in their burrows, the badger can go after them—the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

But the two species aren’t always so friendly. Back in 1980, Bekoff and his colleagues observed coyotes working together to kill badgers. “We don’t know how often this occurs—badgers are really nasty to approach,” he says. But it does happen.


Also, he points to a coyote pack he studied in Grand Teton National Park that didn’t associate at all with the local badgers. “They were not friends or partners,” he says. “They clearly avoided each other.”

Importantly, the animals that do pair up aren’t then sitting down and eating together, notes evolutionary ecologist Emily Latch of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. “Badgers often take the meal underground,” she says. “But coyotes will absolutely swipe it if they have the chance. It’s a hunting association, not a food-sharing one.”

While biologists consider these associations to be temporary and hunting-related, back in 2016, Kimberly Fraser of the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado observed a coyote and badger that simply seemed “happy to be together. They’d rush forward to greet each other, sun themselves right next to each other, explore, and travel side by side.”

Between September and late November that year, she observed the pair outside her window many times. Sometimes they’d investigate a spot where the badger had been digging, she says, “but I never saw them actively hunting. They were simply together.”

“It just shows how flexible these animals can be,” says Bekoff. “And it shows that they have different personalities, different moods.” Each relationship is its own case, he says, affected by the age of the animals, their past experiences, and their current circumstances. “We can’t make generalizations about how animals get along.”


Cases in point are the many observations of interspecies “friendships” recorded around the globe, often between animals in captivity but sometimes in the wild—even between predator and prey. With animals there are exceptions to virtually every rule.

The now-famous coyote-badger footage actually includes a round-trip crossing (going north, the badger leads the coyote). “This is, to my knowledge, the first report of these two species using a human-made crossing structure together,” says POST’s Sharma.

The clip is from one of more than 50 remote cameras set up between the Santa Cruz Mountains and neighboring ranges—part of a POST study, in partnership with Pathways for Wildlife, that’s taking a biological inventory of the area and looking at how wildlife interacts with major roadways in the region. Even when not built specifically for the animals, bridges and tunnels, Sharma points out, can have significant conservation value as habitat becomes more and more fragmented by roads and other development.

As for the behavior on camera, “the coyote doing that little play bow—it looks like it’s saying, ‘Come on, come on,’” says Latch. “And in a sense, that’s what going on. Coyotes do encourage badgers to move and search for prey by scrambling around, leading, and play bowing.”

She also notes that the badger’s posture suggests ease: “With that tail up, trotting away, that means the animal is pretty comfortable, pretty content.”

Wildlife ecologist Stanley Gehrt of Ohio State University, who has studied both species, agrees. “As scientists, we’ve seen this relationship for quite a while,” he says. “But the value of this video is that it conveys pure companionship, happiness, a camaraderie. They seemed happy to be with each other.”

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